From Tee to Green
By Bobby Lee
Caddies used to be an integral part of the golf experience. Dating as far back as 1691 at St.Andrews Golf Course in Scotland, caddies were as essential to the game as golf balls and tees. But in the early 1950s, that all began to change with the advent of the golf cart. Courses and clubs began to realize how much extra revenue could be generated from cart rentals, while decreasing the expenses associated with caddie programs. Fast-forward to the present, and only private clubs and the most prestigious courses still have caddies available for guests. In Southern California, count The Resort at Pelican Hill® in that elite group.
“The golf courses were closed for two years for ‘re-perfection,’ so when they reopened, first-class amenities such as the forecaddie program were introduced,” says Robert Ford, general manager of golf operations. The offering, which costs $45 per bag, is optional and worth the fee.The forecaddies are specially trained employees of Caddies Services Inc., which provides services to esteemed facilities like Augusta National, Pebble Beach and Pinehurst. “Our caddies go through three weeks of specialized training to ensure guests are provided with the best experience possible while at the course,” says Jeff Weber, the caddiemaster at Pelican Hill.
Contrary to the old joke about a caddie’s job being to “show up, shut up and keep up,” caddies provide a valuable service for those who choose to use them. At Pelican Hill, the experience begins before the first tee.“Once the guest checks in, our forecaddie will introduce himself about 25 minutes before tee time,” says Weber.“He’ll go out to the driving range with the guest and watch him or her hit balls and see how their game is.”
The ultimate goal is to make the guest’s experience as enjoyable as possible,” adds Terry Musick, one of the top forecaddies at Pelican Hill.“Whether it’s helping a player stay relaxed or offer encouragement, I want to make sure the guests leave feeling satisfied even if they don’t play well.And first-time players at Pelican Hill seldom play up to their usual standards because it’s a really tough golf course.” Most, if not all, of the forecaddies are players (including one who’s a scratch player).And while they may sometimes provide how-to tips,Weber is quick to point out that they’re not instructors:“Our three-week training course is golf-service oriented.”
“What I try to do is help the round flow,” Musick explains.“I’ll advise the guests on target lines and yardages from the tee box and, if possible, head off to the fairway to mark each golfer’s shots.” By the time the golfer reaches his or her ball, Musick will already have the yardage and club selection for his player’s next shot, and then will work through the rest of the group. On shots to the green, he’ll have the balls cleaned for the player as he reaches the green and help with reading the putt, if necessary. “At the end of the day, we just want the golfer to have a great experience on the course,” notes Weber. “Forecaddies can, and should, be a big part of that.”
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